Business meetings are supposed to produce good information, understanding and decisions.
Way too often (maybe most of the time?) they turn into marathons that are a series of individual "stand up/sit down" presentations where one speaker simply melts into the next. The result is low energy and some unnecessary confusion on the part of participants. Why should I listen to Sarah talk about this? Sometimes it's even, "Who the heck is Sarah?"
You and I need a change in energy and pace to capture our attention and hold our interest. So I'm going to offer managers and meeting leaders an easy way to improve meetings everywhere:
Introduce Each Presenter
Why is this important?
Sure, you may know Ralph from Accounting or Rita the Sales Manager. But do you always know exactly why they are speaking today, what they've done recently, or something captivatingly unique about them? To simply toss a speaker into the mix and push the button for the next slide makes every "speaker" the same. This forces them (if they are aware) to work harder at re-capturing the group.
Introductions set the mood for the presenter. The group has a chance to absorb some information that will set up the segment. Most importantly: It establishes the credibility of the speaker. There is a psychological boost that comes from someone else--especially the boss--endorsing the presenter. What better way to show recognition for specific activity than in a meeting with "the team" or others from the company?
Here's what to include. Any one or all may be useful, depending upon the familiarity of the group with the next presenter.
1. Establish their expertise on the topic.
Tell what they've been working on, how that relates to their work and educational history, and one thing that you value about their efforts.
2. Capture attention.
I once had to introduce a guy totally well-known to the group. His specialty? IT. But I also knew that his hobby was wine-making and he had literally cultivated a first-class vineyard on his property. So the intro slide was a photo of him (supplied by his wife) tending to the vines on the weekend. It completely shifted the dynamics. Then it was possible to quickly move into #3.
3. Make it relevant to the topic at hand
"Bill has spent the past 3 months at our site in Finland studying the pilot program for added manufacturing efficiency. He has those results for us today and I think you'll be intrigued by them."
Managers and meeting leaders: Think "Expertise, Attention, and Relevancy." Then do the intro for each. The presenters and the audience will appreciate it and you'll shift the energy in a way that will improve the quality of your sessions.
What tips do you have from your own meeting experiences? Inquiring minds want to know!
Meeting Bonus: In case your meeting leads to problem-solving, Art Petty offers 8 Suggestions To Improve Your Team's Problem-Solving Skills.